Alexei Navalny Found in Remote Russian Penal Colony

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Alexei Navalny, the anti-Putin activist and Russian opposition leader who mysteriously disappeared from prison earlier this month, has been found in a remote penal colony in the Arctic, a spokesperson has said.

Kira Yarmysh, an aide for Navalny, wrote on X on Monday that the activist had been found after nearly three weeks of his whereabouts being unknown. “He is now in IK-3 in the settlement of Kharp in the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous District,” she wrote, referring to an area in northwestern Siberia that is a 46-hour drive from Moscow. “His lawyer visited him today. Alexey is doing well.”

Navalny himself confirmed his location in a series of posts on X. “I am your new Santa Claus,” he wrote. “The 20 days of my transportation were pretty exhausting, but I’m still in a good mood, as befits a Santa Claus.” He added, “Anyway, don’t worry about me. I’m fine. I’m totally relieved that I’ve finally made it.”

A vocal critic of president Vladimir Putin, Navalny has been a target of the regime for years, surviving multiple assassination attempts before he was arrested in Russia in 2021. Last year, he was sentenced to nine years in prison last year on fraud and corruption charges, which are widely believed to be part of a larger effort on behalf of the Putin regime to silence him. He was sentenced to an additional 19 years in prison last August.

Aides associated with Navalny’s team flagged his disappearance on X (formerly known as Twitter) earlier this month, with Yarmysh writing that Russian authorities had refused to disclose his whereabouts. It was suspected that he had been moved to one of Russia’s notoriously punitive penal colonies, located in the country’s most remote areas.

“The fact that this is happening right now… now that ‘elections’ have been announced and Navalny’s team has launched the “Russia without Putin” campaign – is 0% accidental and 100% directly political manual control from the Kremlin,” Navalny chief of staff Leonid Volkov said in a tweet on Dec. 11, after Navalny’s disappearance was initially reported. “It is no secret to Putin who his main opponent is in these ‘elections.’ And he wants to make sure that Navalny’s voice is not heard. This means that everyone should become Navalny’s voice.”


Navalny’s disappearance coincided with a campaign launched by his organization the Anti-Corruption Foundation, urging voters to turn out in droves on election day March 17 to vote against Putin. The campaign circumvented Russian censorship laws by using a QR code to direct voters to a “Russia without Putin” website under the guise of more innocuous language.

Putin has been president since 2012, following two consecutive terms he served from 2000 to 2008. Earlier this month, he announced he would once again be running for president in 2024, which could potentially extend his term to 2030.

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